Energy efficient homebuilders are constantly improving on design and sustainability to offer solutions to consumers that really want the most efficient home on the planet. The balancing act that an green home builder must pull off is not an easy feat: they need to provide a home with the creature comforts we have all come to take for granted and, at the same time, they must also provide a measurably superior alternative in their offerings that the public will appreciate and be able to afford. Value is exceedingly important given our current economic situation in America.
In the past, energy conscious design was exceedingly expensive and, in turn, was not something the average consumer could afford even if they could appreciate the fact that energy saving homes are good for the environment. Now, building homes that are so efficient they can nearly power themselves is not only technologically possible, but consumers can obtain these superior products for the same price range as a standard, site built home. While these homes go by many names, manufacturers refer to affordable, efficient homes as "Net-Zero energy efficient homes."
Net-Zero energy efficiency aims at supplying the total electrical needs of a household. The goal of the Net-Zero home building process is two-fold: first, to supply the total energy needs of a home and second, to do so at the least possible expense. Some critics of the phrase "Net-Zero energy efficiency" claim they can achieve the same results of a Net-Zero home by merely by adding a large number of solar panels to any home they build. In all fairness, it is true that you can supply all of the electrical needs of a home by adding a lot more solar panels, but this is not nearly as efficient, effective or economical as designing a home and its various components as a system that seeks to reduce energy consumption from as many points of design as possible.
The goal of Net-Zero design should be, then, not to add as many expensive solar panels as required, but to reduce the overall electrical consumption of a home such that the least amount of expensive solar photovoltaic system components need be used.
The reason that many homebuilders are not moving in the direction of improving efficiency is because the research and development costs alone are enormous. However, the builders that do not match pace with efficient designers will, in the future, lose market share to more forward thinking homebuilders.
Owning a green home is possible. In fact, you can buy a custom, factory built home now for the same cost of many standard site built homes that you find in common residential tract neighborhoods. In residential tract neighborhoods, you can add an island in your kitchen, but you can't move entire walls or add to square footage significantly; you buy exactly what the developer offers in standardized plans. Custom, factory built homes differ in that you have far more control over design and the end product. Perform research online about Net-Zero homes and solar homes and you will come to find that there are a number of viable options available at a wide range of prices.
Luca Brammer is the Director of Business Development for Hallmark-Southwest Corporation. Hallmark-Southwest is a builder of California manufactured homes specializing in energy efficient home design and Net-Zero energy efficiency.